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Retro Corner: 'The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind'

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Retro Corner: 'The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind' screenshot

© Bethesda Softworks

First released: 2002 (PC, Xbox)
Now available for: PC (Steam)

With Skyrim crowned as our favourite game of 2011, we look back at one of the most revered games in the Elder Scrolls series, Morrowind. Considered the first 'modern' entry in the series and one most similar to later entries Oblivion and Skyrim, its world offered a tighter scope than previously. 1996's Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall allowed players to explore a region twice the size of Great Britain, most of which was randomly generated. By comparison, Morrowind was said to be just 0.01% the size, a vast difference and not the strongest selling point for a sequel.

Quality and not quantity comes to mind, though, as each town, city and dungeon was crafted by hand. It made for a far more memorable and individual world, one with such character that it remains a fan-favourite today. The region of Vvardenfell, an island province, can only be described as being somewhat bizarre, a place that ditched traditional stone castles and lush green landscapes for wooden villages next to dank swamps, mushroom-covered hillsides and tall striders that would transport players between locations.

Retro Corner: 'The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind' screenshot
Like other games in the Elder Scrolls series, players were left to their own devices when it came to exploring and playing. Given a few leads on the main quest and dropped into a coastal town, they could then set off in any direction and explore any open dungeon or town, or take part in any sidequest and guild they chose. For some players it was the first game that featured such a level of freedom, and as a result many often ignored the main story for the many riches to be found off the beaten path.

There are obviously a number of differences between more modern Elder Scrolls instalments. The lack of a compass for quests meant you had to manually follow directions and road signs to reach your destinations. Enemies were of a fixed level based on their location and didn't scale to your own, making random exploration a more dangerous affair, and magic wouldn't regenerate, requiring a steady supply of potions on your person. It was also possible to kill key characters, which allowed you to break questlines permanently, but was a factor that contributed to the game's enduring amount of freedom.

Retro Corner: 'The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind' screenshot
Morrowind also formally introduced mods and expansions to the series. Through The Elder Scrolls Construction Set, players could tweak and create their own elements in the world and share them with others online, something which is still done to this day. Its commercial successes led to Bethesda working on expansions Tribunal and Bloodmoon soon after release, adding new cities and content to an already expansive package.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Morrowind remains a popular role-playing game to return back to, thanks to a healthy amount of mods that have graphical changes to make a far more eye-catching experience on modern systems, and tweaks to make playing itself a little less rough round the edges. Steam users can download it for a small fee, while Xbox 360 players can hunt down a copy of the Xbox original and play it from the comfort of their sofas. When they're eventually fed up with Skyrim, obviously.



Do you have many fond memories of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind? Add a comment to the space below!

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